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Natural Light in Architecture
Derek Phillips FCIBSE
Synopsis There are many reasons for the renewed interest in daylighting, the high cost of fossil fuels and the realization that sources of electricity have a finite life, being quoted as most cogent; but perhaps even more important are the less tangible aspects of daylighting which relate more to the human spirit, and the quality of life….Change and variety….modelling….orientation….sunlight effect….colour….and view out. The introduction of natural light into today’s buildings is an area where British architects lead the way. History The history of daylighting dates of course from the beginning of time starting with natural light entering the mouths of caves. Perhaps the first civilized use was the Roman Patio house. After 1900 daylight was in competition with the various forms of artificial light, up to the point when it appeared to be irrelevant, having as its nadir the development of “Burolandschaft” when buildings could be of infinite depth, and when even some schools and factories were built without any windows at all. There are many reasons for the renewed interest in daylighting, the high cost of fossil fuels and the realization that sources of electricity have a finite life, being quoted as most cogent; but perhaps even more important are the less tangible aspects of daylighting which relate more to the human spirit, the quality of life. Environment What are these less tangible aspects of daylighting? Whilst none on their own might be thought to be of primary importance; it is when they are added together and a holistic view taken of the interior environment which they create that their importance becomes paramount. Taken in no order of priority they can be listed as the following; 1. Change and Variety The human desire for change wrought by the changes in the seasons, the weather and the time of day. Artificial means have sometimes been adopted to replicate this variety by means of electric sources, but with little success. 2. Modelling The direction of natural light providing the shadow patterns which inform the appearance of objects and surfaces, and give them the appearance that we associate with the natural world. 3. Orientation Orientation is of importance not only in the external siting of buildings to maximize the influence of diurnal change, but to enable those within a building to establish themselves in relation to the world outside. 4. Sunlight effect
When it is available sunlight has a therapeutic effect and the importance of access to a degree of sunlight during the day is most noticeable when it is denied. 5. The control of sunlight is sometimes necessary and many ingenious devices have been designed to cope with this. Windows do more than let in light and are often associated with solar shielding and ventilation. View out Access to a view out may not have been paramount in the minds of the early building designers. both in the form of the aperture through which the daylight comes and in the nature of glass or transparent material permitting the light to enter. where holes were left in the roof admitting rain as well as light. but it is not only in the 20th century that the view from buildings has been conceived to be of some importance. it was left to the 18th century and the introduction of the glazed skylight. and its surroundings to reduce glare. There are many window forms which have been developed over the centuries. Colour Natural colour may vary throughout the day. and others designed to introduce light into the interior in such a manner as to reduce the difference in brightness between the window brightness. to the point where the wall became the window and some form of control is required to protect the occupant from excessive brightness. this will assist in the reduction of greenhouse gasses and have an important effect in reducing global warming. Windows The design of windows is in constant development. the word atrium being devised from the original Roman patio house. and there is no artificial source which can match it. This development had the important effect of increasing the “daylight effective depth” and has its modern equivalent in the atriums we see today. 6. some for military reasons. Energy The energy used by artificial lighting in buildings is a major part of the energy use in buildings and it is recognized that if this can be reduced and consequently the emissions of carbon dioxide. sometimes associated with heliostats placed on the roof to track the sunpath. . The importance of the introduction of daylight to modern building interiors can be measured by the innovative methods often employed. these include the use of “Light pipes” where glazed apertures are left in the roof with daylight being directed to parts of the building by means of reflective ducts. to introduce daylight deep into the interior of a building. such as the Pantheon or the Roman patio house. Forgetting about the early architecture. some of which are at odds with the less tangible benefits of daylighting enumerated above and pay attention more to architectural fashion than functional design. The greater use of daylight can lead to a reduction in the use of electrical energy and assist significantly in the battle to solve the energy crisis. but it is the standard by which all colour is judged.
but the possibilities for energy savings are obvious. the staff must not be located further than six metres from a window. the human factor is at least of equal importance. More buildings are being built in the UK. there are regulations determining that in a work situation. for this reason the means of calculation are . There are some areas in buildings where daylight can never reach and electric light will always be required. as important as the established needs for the introduction of alternative sources of energy from wave or wind. where daylight penetration is combined with artificial sources. contributing to a feeling of wellbeing. and windows let in more than light. but by the use of “daylight linking controls” the use of electrical energy can be significantly reduced. and the weather. Special “intelligent” light fittings are now available which react directly to the light level of a space. Daylight Calculation The first and most obvious thing to understand is that daylight is variable: it varies with the season of the year. A passive response building in which the maximum use is made of daylighting can be both comfortable and cost effective having undoubted savings in the use of running costs and energy. just as there are some buildings. in such a way that the space appears to be daylit during the day. there is some ambivalence among building owners as to whether the climate in our country demands its use. Human Factors Daylight is inextricably linked with windows. where electric light will rarely be necessary during daylight hours. solar gain and with the admission of noise. and this is where architects have a role to play. It is not suggested that daylight can in all circumstances replace artificial light entirely during the day.Whilst there are climates in the world where the use of methods of air conditioning are considered to be mandatory. the window is at the leading edge of solutions to the human needs it must satisfy. it is the appearance of being daylit coupled with a relationship to view outside the window which is of importance. the time of day. Daylight is believed to be essential in providing a pleasant visual environment. they are closely related to air movement and the needs for ventilation. The new science of Photovoltaics where the glass skin of the building is used for solar collection is in its infancy. But it is impossible to judge the need for daylight and sunlight in engineering terms alone. but where some areas are supplemented by artificial light for some or all of the day. and where it will need to be supplemented. and in some countries such as the Netherlands and Germany. People like daylight. where the use of air conditioning has been omitted. Together with the engineering solutions to the problems of heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Some of the most successful installations are where the control system leads to a system of “daylight linking”. A careful study of the plans related to energy efficient daylighting design will indicate where sufficient daylight is available. During daylight hours in a work situation where people are in a fixed position most of the time the method of lighting is clearly crucial and those situations where people work in entirely artificial conditions are liable to lead to ill health and absenteeism. such as homes. they have associations with the admission of heat and of heat loss. adding or subtracting light in relation to the available daylight.
there are computational methods available to assess the likely daylight penetration. and likewise that your building does not obstruct that of your neighbour. then there are those buildings on restricted sites where the neighbouring buildings must be considered as obstructions. these will demand the use of computers. something which the architect can understand more readily than a series of numbers. and simple calculation methods are available to work out the Daylight Factors in the rooms adjacent to the windows. Normally an average DF of 5% is necessary in a work situation to provide a daylit space for a large part of daylight hours. the latter being a figure considered to be sufficient to provide some sense of the room being daylit.based on relative rather than absolute values. or lower for the remaining 15%. or in special cases such as art galleries. These measurements may be made in daylight conditions outside. where illuminance levels are critical. but not sufficient to carry out normal office tasks. and observes the . a proportion known as the daylight factor. A 2% DF would therefore be a space requiring artificial light for a large part of the year. and that available at different positions inside. Where there are adjacent buildings these may enjoy certain rights of light. The simplest situations are those where the windows are placed in the vertical elevations of a building. an average DF can be assessed. But perhaps the greatest advantage to the architect will be in the visual appearance of the interior spaces of the model under different conditions. where it is usually agreed that for average conditions. Firstly there are the new buildings placed on a green field site. and at the end of the day the cost involved is heavy. It is important therefore for the architect to ensure that the profile of the building to be constructed complies in all respects with the planning laws. The following values are correct where the unobstructed overcast sky provides an illuminance of 5000 lux….. but where an architectural programme demands complicated building sections. and this is usually defined in terms of the relationship between the light available outside. The use of simple architectural models is useful here. and the outcome uncertain bearing in mind the variable nature of the source. a 2% DF will give a light level of 100 lux. affecting the amount of daylight penetration. will have its own “right to light”. since they are relatively simple to construct. There are two main design considerations concerned with the orientation of the building. by the use of an artificial sky designed to represent the exterior condition at any time of the year in different weather conditions. and these must be taken into account.the British condition! For example a 1% DF will give a light level of 50 lux. then the daylight inside will be a given % of the daylight available outside. as represented by an overcast sky in the British climate. Due to the variable nature of daylight a diffuse sky produces 5000 lux or more for 85% of the day. Lighting design offices will no doubt have the necessary computer software to calculate the amount of daylight in rooms lit by side windows. in much the same way that the architects own building when complete. can be altered easily to permit experimentation with change. By calculating the DF at a number of points throughout a space. where the architect has control of its location and orientation and where the needs of daylighting should inform the initial building strategy.
since the architectural quality of all the new stations along the line is significant. and in most cases daylight has been introduced to the lower areas of the stations. and specialist consultants are available to assist. Roland Paoletti. The examples chosen are as follows: Southwark Arriving at Southwark Station you are fed by daylit escalators to the “intermediate concourse” which leads you either down to the main Jubilee Line train level. as Frank Pick before him.right of his neighbours light. the architect in overall charge was. and how this has been translated into the built form. The concourse is daylit from overhead by means of a cone clad in blue glass patterned in triangles. the purpose was not to provide a “beauty contest”. The aim is to illustrate that there are virtually no buildings where daylighting will not have a part to play. canopies and light shafts. conscious of the opportunity to create buildings of quality. Transport The extension to the Jubilee Line Underground in London. The intermediate concourse being a key element of circulation. Canada Water A glazed cylindrical ticket hall at ground level allows light to filter gently down to the escalators below. This can be something of a minefield. such a s domes. and is a fine example of engineering in the field of transport. This is an enormously impressive space. or upwards to Waterloo East. and a dignified entrance to the “world of the train”. by various means. which runs from Westminster Eastwards as far as Stratford was completed in 1999. but to choose stations in which the solutions to the problems posed by daylighting stations on the Jubilee Line are noted for their differences of approach. with dynamic patterns of sunlight and shadow. but rather than imposing some form of grand design on his project architects he relied first on choosing those architects with particular engineering skills. drums. and will identify where one or more of the intangible factors have had a disproportionate influence on the design. . the daylight through the cone being controlled by “piranese” like deep louvers. and then allowing them to work within the framework of the local community to express the grain of an individual neighbourhood. Case Studies Finally some ten buildings have been selected in the following fields: Transport/Offices/Education/Leisure/Religion/Display/Industrial Examples of buildings in these fields have been selected to show how the needs of daylighting have informed the architect’s design strategy. In selecting four underground stations to feature in this Case Study of the Jubilee Line. The examples are designed to show how daylight may have a greater or lesser effect in the different architectural programmes.
where MPs can congregate. planned to provide an excellent environment. all enlivened by excellent daylighting. by Sir Michael Hopkins is the new Parliamentary building. the large amount of space required by a University Faculty is broken down into four wings connected by a double height social and communication space. By breaking up the accommodation into a series of parallel wings the architect met the brief to provide naturally lit teaching spaces. The lighting strategy agreed was as follows: 1. provides ample daylight in the spaces below for orientation and daylight impression. To relate the building to its external environment and landscaping. The daylighting strategy is determined by the plan. Offices One of the latest office buildings to be completed in London.Canary Wharf Three wide glazed canopies located above the vertical circulation at the escalator locations. At ground level the courtyard has an enclosed area with a vaulted glazed roof. with all the associated ancillary accommodation. and meet their constituents. with rooms on four floors for the MPs. which look outwards or inwards to the courtyard. First it is an “above ground underground” station. 3. rooms have balconies and French windows with rooms to the outside having their own bay window. in which the MPs offices are arranged around a hollow rectangular courtyard. in which the passenger enters the trains which run inside the building at the same level as the ticket office. As can be gained from the diagrams. administration and social spaces. and to enjoy the varying qualities of the natural source. Education The Faculty of Education at the main University of the West of England in Bristol (UWE) represents an example of the new look in educational buildings in the UK. . placed between Pugin’s Houses of Parliament and Norman Shaw’s Scotland Yard the site posed many problems which required a unique solution to provide 210 individual offices for members of parliament. To make the most effective use of natural light to reduce running costs and Co2 emissions. whilst the interconnecting “street” was unified by the overhead daylighting. 2. Two rows of trees create an avenue with a central water feature. Stratford Here the situation is entirely different. To provide appropriate levels of lighting for a range of teaching. where daylighting was a part of the brief. Located in a world heritage site. built without air conditioning. together with a pedestrian connection under Bridge Street to “the House” to enable members of parliament to react swiftly to the division bell.
The plan clearly indicates its daylight credentials with a careful relationship to landscaping between the blocks. The Nave is surrounded by ancillary spaces. sports injury clinic. at high level around the perimeter. Jacuzzi. lifts and main plant are concealed in louvered enclosures at either end of the building. Escape stairs. 200 metre running track. High level brise soleil protect the south elevation from the sun. as a simple background to the working areas. whilst at night it allows the artificial light from the interior. to high levels where this is required. as this would have prejudiced the simplicity of the effect of the wild flowers on the hillside. with the roof being formed by the hillside itself and covered in wild flowers. offering an inexpensive opportunity for redirecting low angle winter sunlight towards the floor of . The climate in the area is cold and by forming the church sheltered by earth on three sides it is protected to minimize operating costs. obviating the need for any exterior floodlighting to register the form of the building. The tall tower is designed to collect both light and solar energy. noted for his daylighting design and author of the Seminole book “Sunlight as formgiver for architecture”. to spill out a glow to the exterior façade. The tower contains an electrically operated high-tech thermal shutter which can track the sun. The lighting designer was the American Bill Lam. including a 25 metre level deck swimming pool. Leisure The Chelsea Club provides private sports facilities for its members. The exterior appearance is gained from the use of vandal-resistant. but the architect resisted the temptation to incorporate perimeter skylights in his design. which spans from floor to ceiling around the perimeter of the space allows daylight through to all the major spaces of the interior during the day. whilst the interior reminds one of the effect of Japanese shoji screens. The Church is partly submerged into a hillside. The combination of daylight received through the “Kalwall panels” and variable artificial light from the stretched ceiling panels provides a calm soft light with no hard shadows. but also registers the presence of the church in the neighbourhood. but the impression of a daylit space was desired. ideal for the sporting activities below. The solution to the interior lighting is a method of daylight linking. light-diffusing fiberglass panels. associated with the Chelsea football ground at Stamford Bridge. This solution consists of a tall tower with sunlight entering from the South. The exterior impression of the building is of white wall cladding. called “Kalwall”. The lighting brief was unusual in that due to the paramount need for privacy. providing a light level which can be varied from low for exercises such as yoga. by Architects William Wenzler Assoc. cardiovascular and aerobic studios. so that another solution had to be found. steam room and sauna. This material. although for somewhat different reasons. Churches The Methodist Church built in Milwaukee. was completed in 1982. views “out from” and “into” the facility were to be excluded. with a blank wall to the North. it bears a resemblance to Utzon’s Bagsvaerd Church in Denmark.
model studies were carried out to convince the architect that the idea was practical. Industrial The “Gridshell” is essentially an Industrial building. The architect. It is the supermarket with lowest energy use. with a smaller area for use as a museum and storing of the Museum’s artifacts.the Chancel. This is an excellent use of model studies which can be carried out quite simply using actual sunlight conditions. The store has retained a light airy and attractive ambience. Artificial and natural light were to be closely integrated. It is a no-frills solution to the problem posed by the Museum. and this resulted in a strict energy use of as little as 25 watts/m2. Edward Cullinan’s. The daylight design has achieved a Daylight factor of between 5% to 9%. they are both quicker and cheaper than to try to use the various methods of calculation or by means of computers. showing the tall “conservation space” above ground level. Artificial light was seen as a necessary supplementary provision for extended hours usage. The roof with eight high angled north facing roof lights. sketch design illustrates the concept for the building. or in extreme winter conditions. for a large tall open space where the timbers and frames of historic buildings can be laid out for conservation and repair. During the summer the shutter is in its closed position to reject high angle summer sunlight and heat. and energy efficiency: an early decision was made that daylighting should provide the means of illumination. . before being erected on the site of the Museum. the artifacts store would have intermittent use and might therefore be met by artificial light at all times. Each window is equipped with motorized aluminium louvers operated by Photo-sensor control. The design objectives for the project were for sustainable construction. basically of a sawtooth pattern. by the maximization of the use of daylighting. Whilst the former required a high level of energy efficient lighting (interpreted as daylighting during the day). This was achieved by means of a special roof contour allowing natural light in to the building. In order to test the system. by means of a secondary system of mirrors below. built for the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex. whilst at the same time directing some light to the roof of the Nave. whilst at the same time controlling sunlight and glare. The model studies showed the architect the dramatic sunlight patterns that would be achieved. whilst the “artifacts store” is placed at a lower level cut into the chalk hillside. leaving the environmental lighting of the store to the natural source. At the same time the goods are well lit at all times by carefully designed artificial lighting to the gondolas. The primary use for the building required a large tall open space free of obstruction for the conservation work. to reduce the amount of energy used. Display The Sainsbury Superstore in Greenwich had a particular brief. well daylit from roof lighting. artificially lit when in use. occupies some 20% of the roof area.
For work after dark a sufficient level of artificial light is available from a pattern of downlights. The final result is an enclosed space with a high level of daylight provision. The Daylighting consists of continuous rows of Polycarbonate sheeting at high level. The internal finishes should be light in colour to improve contrast rendering. and the need to control solar gain. and on the South side it has a “bronze tint” to reduce possible sun glare. letting in maximum daylight.. estimated to provide a Daylight Factor (DF) of 10%. A balance was to be found between the need for a high level of daylight. but most of all in the less tangible aspects of daylighting in informing the quality of life…. Summary This paper has tried to illustrate the importance of daylighting in terms of the past history of architecture and in its relevance in terms of todays energy problems. whilst during the day they have been little used. 1. 2. which on the North side is “clear”. The roof should contain a high degree of transparency. 3. .Three important considerations were apparent.by the introduction of natural light into our modern buildings…. visible in the photographs. and the impression at floor level is of an even light. ideal for the needs of conservation work.this is an area where British architects lead the way. Looking up from inside the building the effect of this change is visible but not disturbing..
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